What’s in Your Medicine Cabinet?
Of all the things you should keep in your bathroom medicine cabinet, prescription medicine isn’t one of them. Surprised? You’re not alone.
“Because it’s called a medicine cabinet, it’s a common misconception to think that’s where you should keep your prescriptions,” says Jeffrey Nekomoto, DO, MPH, a primary care physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “In the bathroom, heat and moisture can decrease the potency of a medication.”
It’s better to store prescription medicines in a bedroom drawer or some other cool, dark place that kids can’t get into and that isn’t too humid.
What your medicine cabinet should contain are first aid supplies and over-the-counter remedies for colds, flu and other common illnesses.
“Having the right items on hand when you’re sick or hurt can help you get started on the road to recovery more quickly,” Nekomoto says. Must-have items include the following:
- Different types and sizes of bandages, gauze pads and tape
- Sterile cotton tip swabs to clean wounds
- A thermometer
- Hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and antibiotic ointments
- Hydrocortisone to treat minor skin irritations
- Acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen
- Antihistamines to treat allergic reactions
- Decongestants, as well as cough and cold medications
- Scissors, tweezers and nail clippers
“You also want to keep your medicine cabinet organized and easily accessible in the event of an emergency,” Nekomoto says. “Try not to clutter it up with unnecessary items.”
Drugs don’t mix
When it comes time to make use of the items in your medicine cabinet, whether you have a cold, an allergy or just a headache, you should always call your doctor before taking more than one medication.
“Certain medications interact poorly, and that can make you sicker,” Nekomoto says.
Also, be sure to check the expiration date on the packages before taking any medications.
Knowing what medications to take, when and how to take them, and what to have on hand is important to your health. If you have questions about the medications you take, call (888) 352-RUSH (888 352-7874) to make an appointment with a physician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Rush offers a free brown bag program to help older adults manage multiple medications and avoid dangerous interactions. To learn more, call RUSH Generations at (800) 757-0202.
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